Scrivener for iOS - When?

re
redeclipse
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Tue Apr 12, 2016 6:56 pm Post

BriMercer wrote:Are any of you guys experienced enough to know how long, in a process like this, the private and public beta is likely to last. Are we talking months and months of each, so we're bumping up against the November timeframe for a public release? Or might it be sooner?


Depends on a few things. How feature-complete is the beta? Sometimes software developers will release software before they've hit all the targets for its features in order to start getting user feedback sooner. If there are still some features that aren't added in or finished, then the timeframe could become considerably longer.

Another factor is platform disparity. In the case of an iOS app like Keith is making, he's dealing with a very controlled and focused set of platforms: iOS devices which run iOS 9 or greater. Finding all the quirks between platforms and getting software to work well across the board can become a very time-consuming process. In the case of this app though, the impact of this issue should be minimal since he's dealing with a single OS on a very limited set of similar devices. There will still be some finagling, because there are differences in the features and specs of these devices.

Beta testing with real users has two main benefits: It reveals UX issues, and it reveals code issues. Coding issues tend to be significantly easier to address. Users aren't quite as kind and predictable to an application as its developers are, and will smoke out problems that developers couldn't see for one reason or another (e.g. If you open the app 7 times in a row, it crashes!). UX issues on the other hand can have pretty broad implications on software and can be (but not always) very involved to fix. Suppose a button is too small and people keep missing it. Resizing it is easy. But what implications does this have on the rest of the interface? Should other buttons get smaller? Do all buttons need to be bigger? Do we hide some buttons? Now you not only have to address the design of the page/view/app again, but you also have to change the code. Depending on the scope of the UX issue (e.g. the entire workflow for the app doesn't work for most users vs. a single button is too small) making fixes for UX issues can have a significant impact on the timeline.

As far as actual math on this matter goes; you need time for users to use the app and for the developer to process their feedback and make adjustments to the app. I'd say this is a month of time at minimum Once the developers feel good about the application they need to make the finishing touches to the application package itself, in addition to preparation of marketing materials, support infrastructure, website, etc. Probably a few weeks for this step. Finally, the app needs to be submitted to the app store

So if the application is pretty stable, largely "complete", and if there aren't any major UX issues, then I would guess a release by early summer would be possible. Its probably wise for the team to release the app before the next iOS and devices are released (~September), if possible, to avoid development getting caught up in new tools and technologies.

On the other hand, if testing uncovers significant issues, and/or the app is not feature-complete yet, we could be seeing the closed beta continuing beyond the summer. I would wager that the LL team is pushing hard to have this new software out before November though (NaNoWriMo) not just for the sake of everyone excited to use it, but also for the great marketing opportunity that month presents. Based on what I know about this project (which admittedly isn't much) and what I know about software development, I'd say releasing by November is achievable even if testing uncovers unseen speedbumps.

TL;DR My best guess is somewhere between early summer and November.


DISCLAIMER: I am a software developer, but I am not affiliated with Literature and Latte and I do not speak for Keith. I'm just speculating and I could be completely wrong.

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Ronin
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Wed Apr 13, 2016 9:20 am Post

Next to the above question about the estimated timeframe I would like to get to know a bit more about language support. Did you take a multilanguage approach or will the first version only be released in English?

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BriMercer
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Wed Apr 13, 2016 4:12 pm Post

Great analysis, Redeclipse! Just the kind of in-depth speculation I was seeking.

I really like what you said about having it out before September (or whenever the next iOS is out). That makes a great deal of sense. Early summer would be amazing, though.

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xiamenese
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Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:52 pm Post

BriMercer wrote:Great analysis, Redeclipse! Just the kind of in-depth speculation I was seeking.

I really like what you said about having it out before September (or whenever the next iOS is out). That makes a great deal of sense. Early summer would be amazing, though.

But it is pure speculation on the part of someone who is not part of the Scrivener team, I would guess at not a member of the apparent, current small beta-testing group ... and such speculation in the past has always been wrong. So …

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xiamenese
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Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:55 pm Post

Ronin wrote:Next to the above question about the estimated timeframe I would like to get to know a bit more about language support. Did you take a multilanguage approach or will the first version only be released in English?

Given the history of the app's development, and the small size of the programming team—Keith!—I think you can bet your bottom dollar on it's only being in an English interface, certainly for some time.

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lolajl
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Thu Apr 14, 2016 8:56 pm Post

redeclipse wrote:TL;DR My best guess is somewhere between early summer and November.


DISCLAIMER: I am a software developer, but I am not affiliated with Literature and Latte and I do not speak for Keith. I'm just speculating and I could be completely wrong.


One big factor: Apple.

I've been through this process before when it comes to getting the app pass approval at Apple. You will think you've got all the possible bugs squashed only to find that one method you used for fixing one of these bugs doesn't follow their SOP and you'll have to make changes to that code, which might also affect other code.

I' pretty sure the folks at L&L have factored this into their beta testing.

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kewms
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Thu Apr 14, 2016 9:09 pm Post

xiamenese wrote:Given the history of the app's development, and the small size of the programming team—Keith!—I think you can bet your bottom dollar on it's only being in an English interface, certainly for some time.

Mr X


I can't say much about the beta, but most of the navigation elements are icons, not words, and of course projects and documents will take whatever names you give them. The most verbal parts of the interface are the settings areas, but a non-English speaking user of desktop Scrivener should be able to find their way around without too much trouble.

Katherine
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David Munch
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Fri Apr 15, 2016 6:26 am Post

Given that the sync code is likely quite complex, and Scrivener data files are the life and blood for many users, the code has to be rock solid. That in itself can mean that the beta periode is going to be quite longer than expected.

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murm
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Fri Apr 15, 2016 1:59 pm Post

David Munch wrote:Given that the sync code is likely quite complex, and Scrivener data files are the life and blood for many users, the code has to be rock solid. That in itself can mean that the beta periode is going to be quite longer than expected.


Syncing is sometimes much more tricky than anticipated by developers, especially if you need to do the low-level stuff yourself, which might or might not be the case for Scrivener.

Even Apple did not get iCloud data sync right the first time, they had to roll back and try again. Syncfor Apps like OmniFocus, or Things for iOS and Mac literally took years to develop. All of these examples had single user/multi device usecases. That being said, a clever developer can reduce the complexity of sync dramatically, and sometimes document based sync via dropbox just works with minor issues.

What I found helpful was taking a snapshot of the data before syncing, so users could easily access their original data through iTunes or tools like iMazing and continue working.

The really tricky sync issues are often only discovered after extensive real-world testing, which sometimes involves a lot of fixing of data stores by the developers to restore the work of the beta testers. There's a tradeoff between the number of beta testers, the length of the closed beta period and the risk to have sync issues in a public version which requires developers to fix even more data.

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spankybus
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Tue Apr 19, 2016 6:57 pm Post

Given that iOS scrivener needs new matching desktop versions (windows and mac) to function, are those versions in beta as well? Will they launch with the iOS variant, after, or possibly pre-emptively? Will we finally have feature parity between Windows and Mac?

Sorry lol that's s bunch of questions but they're all related.

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Jaysen
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Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:16 pm Post

Where did you get the idea that new desktop versions are needed?

That would be 100% opposite of what KB has said...
Jaysen

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JJ
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Tue Apr 19, 2016 9:00 pm Post

Jaysen wrote:Where did you get the idea that new desktop versions are needed?
That would be 100% opposite of what KB has said...

I don't believe you'll be able to cite KB to that effect. We do know that sequential DocID-linked filenames (nnn.rtf) are on the way out; they'd be far too susceptible to mismatched, destructive syncs across projects. And given that roadmap, there's no way iScriv has been built against them. So I'd surmise that compatibility with iScriv will require new versions of desktop Scrivener, though not necessarily the paid Release 3.

Rgds -- Jerome

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xiamenese
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Tue Apr 19, 2016 9:17 pm Post

No doubt, if necessary, there will be a point update released when it goes public beta. V. 3 will still be a while, I reckon.

Mr X
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kewms
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Tue Apr 19, 2016 9:18 pm Post

The iScriv beta uses the same project format as Scrivener 2.7.

There is likely to be a concurrent point release of the desktop versions, but this will NOT be Mac(or Win)Scriv 3.0.

Katherine
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Tue Apr 19, 2016 9:36 pm Post

kewms wrote:The iScriv beta uses the same project format as Scrivener 2.7.
Katherine

Oh, I stand corrected. Thanks, Katherine.

-- JJS